Auction raises $16K for Saint John man with cancer

A fundraising dinner and auction Friday collected over $16,000 for a Saint John man struggling to pay for an expensive cancer drug that could prolong his life.

Family also receives special gift from anonymous donor

A fundraising dinner and auction Friday collected more than $16,000 for a Saint John man struggling to pay for an expensive cancer drug that could prolong his life.

Lynn and John Philippe have been struggling to pay the monthly $10,600 bill for a cancer drug to treat his brain tumour. (CBC)

John Philippe, 42, has a brain tumour that requires treatment with the drug Avastin.  

Those treatments cost about $10,600 per month.  

The drug is not covered by either Philippe's workplace plan or by the province of New Brunswick, which currently does not have a catastrophic drug program.  

Philippe's wife Lynn said they were stunned Friday to learn that along with the huge public support for the auction they had received a special gift.  

"Actually an anonymous donor donated a trip to Disney World for my husband and son and I, so it is going to be an amazing time together," she said.  

Philippe is responding well to the Avastin treatments. He is now walking on his own. Two months ago he required the use of a walker.

Philippe has a brain tumour known as Glioblastoma and doctors have told him that treatment with Avastin may extend his life.

Avastin works by preventing blood vessels from forming in tumours. Tumours need a supply of oxygenated blood to grow.

Philippe was forced to put more than $10,000 for the drug on his credit card because his insurance doesn't cover it.

The New Brunswick government announced in 2009 that it would cover Avastin under the provincial drug program, but only for people with metastatic colorectal cancer.  

Premier David Alward promised to implement a $20-million catastrophic drug plan during the 2010 election campaign. But after two years in office, many citizens are still picking up the tab for crippling drug costs.

Alward remains resolute in his commitment to set up a catastrophic drug program in the province but he has not committed to a timeframe.